Centuries ago, people only found what they needed in their village stores. Even millennia ago, the only places to find goods and services were the local weekly bazaar stalls. You found the best, the cheapest and the highest quality through word of mouth. In the 21st century, that has changed only a little. Whereas before you might ask your neighbour or a friend from the local temple, now people take to social media and the groups they join. Social media reach has become the new word of mouth.
It’s all very well, checking reviews and ratings to check how a business is doing, but the sincerest form of client advocacy is when they recommend you to their families and friends.
Connecting People Globally
People didn’t use to move around so much. Now, families and friends can spread around the globe, and they are still sharing valuable information. Sharing your fabulous hairstylist in Sheffield, UK with your family in Australia is not overly helpful. However, when a person shares information about their doctors, lawyers or accountants, that information can traverse regional and city borders. With the ease of travel (let’s ignore 2020 and its difficulties), comes greater access to service providers in different regions. More accessible communication online makes for better access to advice, consultation and collaboration without the need for proximity.
Social Media Reach and Impressions
The number of people you can reach through social media can directly affect the number of new clients that will use your business. Now, ‘reach’, and ‘impressions’ are often (and easily) confused because neither one requires any input from the people who see it.
Reach is how many times your business’ post appears. Impressions are how many times they read/see those posts.
Sometimes those two figures are similar in number, but at other times the number of impressions can be double the number that your reach is. It’s best to think of reach as being the number of unique readers. Impressions are the number of times one post can be read by one person from different sources.
Engagement & Activity
Engagement is the critical metric that gets your name out there and new clients rolling in. The engagement metric counts the number of times that people engage with your post, which comprises:
- Likes (and any other equivalent – those “emotional response buttons are becoming far more common).
- Retweets (and the same action on a different platform)
- Sending & Messaging
- And several other platform-specific interactions that all require the reader to DO something with your post.
It’s okay if a Facebook user sees your post, but getting the user to interact with your post increases reach (okay Facebook & Instagram have started hiding likes), and once one person leaves a comment, more are sure to follow.
Fact: you are far more likely to convert someone who interacts with your content, than someone who just sees it. When your content incites someone to interact with it, you know you’re doing something right.
Groups, Hashtags#, and Other Social Collectives for Targeting
Friends and family circle sharing isn’t the only hero in getting your name to new clients; even complete strangers can create a useful setting for the distribution of your business name and services. Groups on social media collectivise people with something in common; people join these groups to interact with individuals of the same mind. These groups are a fabulous setting for social media marketing, even between people who don’t know each other.
I’ll give you an example of a group where social posting might be beneficial. There is a local Facebook group for knitters and other yarn-based crafting. It’s not just the local hobby knitters who use the group, but also those who provide their needlecraft services. Want a baby blanket knitted or booties crocheted? You can find the people to it on this group.
For finding the relevant groups in which to advertise your business, it’s a research game. You can’t skimp on the research here, but it will return results.
Hashtags aren’t groups and are only really relevant to Twitter and Instagram (with mild relevance for LinkedIn). However, if you want to appear on feeds of people searching your related hashtags, it’s great for getting your name in front of potential clients searching for your services.
Choose your groups wisely. While some groups will allow you to post directly into the feed (with or without approval first), some will insist on keeping all advertisements and sales in a single thread – which doesn’t do much for getting your ads in front of people.
Today, people don’t live in each other’s pockets. Whereas only a few decades ago people would stay in relative proximity to friends and family, now, they could be spread across a city, county or even a continent. Even with telephones, you wouldn’t call around all of your friends and family to find “a great hairstylist, good with curly/frizzy hair”.
A single post on your Facebook feed, asking for recommendations for “a great hairstylist, good with curly/frizzy hair”, will usually return responses from all of your local contacts with a suggestion (or six) for that elusive stylist that’s great with curls.
Now imagine that you are that stylist (kitchen fitter, family lawyer, accountant, etc.), how much is it worth to you to have your business account recommended on such a thread?
Take that a step further and imagine that your business gets a recommendation on a group? Maybe there is a group for mums/parents in Washington. A mum who is searching for a paediatrician, child psychologist, or even a post-partum physical trainer, would ask the group of mums for their recommendations. She might not even know all the mums in the group, but she respects their opinions and knows that they have similar needs. There is an added benefit to these groups too, someone who might not be looking “right now” will see these queries and remember the business recommended.
The Importance of Up-to-date Social Media Profiles
While it’s fabulous to get likes and reads on your social media posts from your followers, you could let yourself down if your business profiles aren’t up-to-date and active.
It should go without saying that you should have current contact details, opening times and a relevant about section. However, you also need to ensure that you keep your followers current with what is happening in your business. Businesses that don’t have any activity on their profiles for months at a time might be viewed with suspicion. Social media activity is easier to achieve than updating a website or blog. A regular posting schedule is essential if you want to maintain good social media reach.
Regular doesn’t have to be daily or even every other day, but it needs to be at least weekly. In uncertain times, regular posting shows a business that is still running, and with plans to continue in the near future. No one can predict the future, but regular social activity indicates the strategy and competency required for a successful company.
Social Media Reaches Everywhere
Without doubt, social media reach is vital in our quest for relevance and presence in our interconnected and social environment. While some of us might try to curb our social media usage for random scrolling, when we want an answer to our questions, recommendations for services and goods, we turn to the hive mind that is our social media circle of friends.
Sure organic reach on social platforms has disappeared in the quest for paid advertising. However, we can still reach the people that want us if we apply strategy to our social game.
While social media reach is important, your reach needs to support engagement. There is no point in having exposure if you can’t convert those you reach. The key to your reach is not how many people you reach, but where and how you get to them.
Check back later in the week when we talk about integrating business software with your social media marketing platforms to streamline business process and social activity.